Representation of the hand in the cerebral cortex

David T. Blake, Nancy N. Byl, Michael M. Merzenich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this brief review, the body of work on hand use and cortical plasticity is reviewed. The hand movements and sensory inputs are represented in the mammalian primary motor cortex and the anterior parietal strip. The dominant organizational rules are that representational area is proportional to peripheral innervation, and that cortical architecture is columnar with limited horizontal spread. The representational area and columnar structure can be shaped by behavior and other input manipulations. The central core systems, and especially cholinergic inputs, act as teachers of the cerebral cortex by marking behavioral reinforcers with the release of acetylcholine. This marking is both necessary and sufficient for plasticity to occur in sensory cortex. As a result of this temporal marking of reinforcing events, nearly coincident inputs over restricted sensory, or motor, segments form coherent representations in primary sensory or motor cortex. Focal dystonia is a problem in which overuse of the hand leads to a lack of motor control, and especially inappropriate use of sensory feedback for motor control. Receptive field size, and columnar architecture, are highly abnormal in this disorder. The deficiencies in focal dystonia, and their appropriate treatment, can be understood by applying the principles of cortical plasticity to the behavioural manipulations that cause focal dystonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume135
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dystonic Disorders
Cerebral Cortex
Hand
Sensory Feedback
Behavior Control
Motor Cortex
Cholinergic Agents
Acetylcholine
Therapeutics

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Dystonia
  • Focal dystonia
  • Population coding
  • Primate
  • Somatosensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Representation of the hand in the cerebral cortex. / Blake, David T.; Byl, Nancy N.; Merzenich, Michael M.

In: Behavioural Brain Research, Vol. 135, No. 1-2, 20.09.2002, p. 179-184.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Blake, David T. ; Byl, Nancy N. ; Merzenich, Michael M. / Representation of the hand in the cerebral cortex. In: Behavioural Brain Research. 2002 ; Vol. 135, No. 1-2. pp. 179-184.
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